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Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Inmate care

October 31, 2004

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To the editor:

The October issue of Reader's Digest features an article called "Crime Pays" about all the health care services the government provides to prison inmates. The only Americans with a constitutional right to health care are prison inmates. The article says that one inmate got a sex change operation because the doctor said he had a "gender identity disorder." Hormone shots are about $8,000 per year at the taxpayers' expense. An Oregon inmate on DEATH ROW is having dialysis treatments at $120,000 per year.

Why are these costly treatments guaranteed and fully covered for inmates when law-abiding citizens can't afford the care they need? That includes organ transplants. In California, two years ago, a twice-convicted felon, serving time for armed robbery, got a heart transplant costing the state $900,000. "Inmates are in the custody of the state, and it's our obligation to provide medical care for them."

Well, excuse me, the handicapped are wards of the state, too, and they can't even get dental cleanings twice a year and some vision services.

Maybe it's time to ration care behind bars. Maybe violent criminals should be bumped down on the transplant list, so law-abiding citizens who aren't on death row can get a chance at organ transplants. Premium health care shouldn't be the reward for robbing a bank, raping or being a murderer. Maybe it's time to let your state and federal representative know that we need some health care changes.

Mary Ann Kieffer,

Lawrence

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